Sunday, April 14, 2013

Skinny Jeans: The Silver Lining to Depression

I left India with almost the same amount of urgency and impulse with which I'd arrived. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was offered a job teaching fitness at a resort in the Caribbean. Aside from being given a start date and a salary agreement, I was asked to return home immediately so the company could fly me to my post in Punta Cana from the United States. I guessed flying me half way across the world at their expense was too much to ask, so I assumed the cost and used a substantial portion of my remaining savings to purchase a ticket back to my parent's house in Nebraska. Or rather, I should say tickets back to Nebraska since the route I booked was Rishikesh-->Delhi-->Mumbai-->Amsterdam-->Minneapolis-->Lincoln.
On such short notice, my transportation options from Rishikesh were limited so my friend, Rishi, hired me a private taxi to Delhi.
(Here's Rishi looking like Batman on his motorcycle.)
Rishi and I shared one last street chai before my early Easter Sunday morning departure.
Although it was a holiday weekend, I didn't think my detour for tea [tea-tour?] would be of any concern. I'd padded my travel time to Delhi by more than two hours. Unfortunately, I didn't account for the amount of oxen and water buffalo traffic jams we'd sit in that day.
(Church Traffic...clearly.)
After 8 hours trailing slowly amongst the bovine/bison brigade, I arrived at the Delhi airport with less than 30 minutes before my flight and wasn't allowed to check in. Remembering my previous success with the "white girl in distress" routine, I pushed my way to the front of the check-in line and tearfully scored a ticket for the next flight to Mumbai.
From there, things went smoothly until I got to Amsterdam. Since I was flying on standby tickets, I wasn't guaranteed, nor given, a seat on the first flight to America. I had to wait six more hours until the next flight to try again. With a pocket full of rupees, I couldn't afford the airport pastries and panekoeken, but [luckily] it being Easter weekend, there were free chocolate eggs all over the airport to satiate my layover hunger.
I got cleared for the next flight, and before I knew it, 50 hours of travel time had passed and I found myself hugging my family for the first time in six months. I quickly rattled off some of my non-blog-appropriate stories assuming that I was only home for enough hours to shower and do laundry before flying to the Dominican Republic.
That assumption was wrong.
The HR contact with whom I'd been communicating while in India told me to look out for an email detailing packing and travel plans. My rapid departure didn't leave me much time on the internet, so I assumed that email would be waiting for me when I returned to Western civilization.
That assumption was wrong as well.
Without an email in my inbox, I called my HR contact within a few hours of arriving home. What ensued thereafter was one week of placing phones calls to her as she confused who I was, what I was hired for and where I was assigned. It became painfully clear that the job I raced home for was no longer available. Although I trust in the Universe and am fully aware that things do not always work out the way they're planned, I still entered some very dark days of reverse culture shock and disappointment.
At a certain point, I got annoyed with my depressive demeanor and peeled myself off my bedroom carpet to re-enter the world of the living. I was happy to discover that my weepy week with no appetite led to a re-entry into my size 25 skinny jeans as well.
(Silver linings.)
With a renewed determination to make the most of this situation, my skinny jeans and I decided to drive to my favorite coffee shop and restart the job hunt. Unfortunately, my new drive for liberation hit a minor road block as I turned on the car radio and heard John Mellencamp belting out how he's going to "prob'ly die in a small town." I shook my fist at the sky then changed the station to find Stevie Wonder singing about the "Joy Inside my Tears."
(Did I mention it was snowing? F*ckingsnowballf*ck!)
Aside from restricting myself from listening to the radio, my days have been occupied with applying and interviewing for new opportunities in Nebraska, the greater United States and Southeast Asia. I believe that the Universe must have brought me back to Lincoln for some enormous lesson. I'm not sure what that lesson is yet, but I think it may have something to do with patience, acceptance and trust.
And as for that job in the Caribbean...the HR woman finally called me back and offered to fly me to Florida to train me for another position with the company. The idea of getting out of my snowy small town was tempting, but I couldn't ignore the gut feeling that this company was not a good match for me. I gave the HR woman a non-violent empathetic piece of my mind and declined the offer. I realize the risk in turning down work in this economy, but I have to believe that something more aligned with my professional and personal vision is out there.
And even though everything feels like winter at the moment, as I look a little bit closer, I can see the definite emergence of Spring.
#hoping #wishing #praying 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Holi Rishikesh and If the Universe Allows It...

Rishikesh began to feel a bit more like home this week. I developed a routine by practicing Ashtanga every morning with my teacher and frequenting my favorite spot, the 60s Cafe, to enjoy the atmosphere of the Ganges,see my friends that worked there, and find myself in a 2 hour existential conversation *unknowingly* with a beautiful female swami. [File that under #onlyinRishikesh!]
(Rishi and Keith- two of the fabulous owners of the cafe.)
One evening at 60s, I had the happy coincidence of meeting my lovely new friend, Sagar, from Pune.
Although we had a shared love of 60s Cafe, we made sure not to neglect exploring new cafes in other areas of town that not only offered mile-high mintnanas
but made lofty promises on their menus as well.
Everyday there was something new and beautiful to discover together. Like roads leading to secluded beaches on the Ganges,
incredible trees,
people seeking balance,
and monkeys on a raft.
We even found Apple's solution to emergency contraception.
(I tried but I wasn't able to download this pill onto my iPad...just kidding, mom).
One of the biggest highlights this week was experiencing the Holi Festival. Holi is a water festival held during the Dol Purnima [full moon] to celebrate the beginning of Spring. People from every walk of life danced in the streets and bombarded each other with water, paint and colored powders.
Even the cows were fair target.
After the festival, I began to plan for my coming weeks in India, but I received the repeated lesson that the Universe wasn't about to comply.
You see, I've learned that it's silly to think I have any control over my future. And it's even sillier to think that I can plan ahead with that [false] sense of control. Because things just happen. Life takes innumerable twists and turns in which I cannot begin to prepare myself.
As exciting and liberating as it's been to realize that things are going to happen regardless of my "perfect planning," it's been equally stressful to not know where I'd go or what I'd do. And it was even more mind-boggling to wake up one day and realize...oh shit, how did I end up in India?!?!
But along the way, I've counted far more blessings than I ever could have hoped or imagined. I've developed incredible and intense friendships. I pushed myself to face the things that frightened and challenged me. And for the first time in my life, I felt just as comfortable with my own company as I do with the company of others.
So where have these lessons led me to now? Well, it's something that I desired, but nothing I could have planned for...
In less than one week I will be moving to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to work at a luxury resort as their group fitness instructor!! [Or at least, that's what I think will happen if the Universe allows it!]
I won't be finishing my year of travel in one fell swoop. I am going to finish it in two installments after working for a while and earning a bit more savings. [Or at least that's what I think will happen if the Universe allows it!] 
It's true that I didn't get to trek deep into the Himalayas nor did I make it to surf and meditate in Bali, but as my Rishikesh Angel Anna says, I'm just taking a viaje from my travels.
(Thanks Anna!)
I am elated with the experiences I had. In fact, I cannot think of a more perfect way to have spent the last 6 months of my life. I'll do my best not to fall off the blog-wagon as I accumulate many more exciting, beautiful and transformative memories in the months to come. [Or at least that's what I think will happen if the Universe allows it!]
My not-so-lil backpack is packed once again and I feel butterflies in my stomach as I stand on yet another proverbial precipice...
But I've learned to trust the value in butterflies.